Education a Priority?

MAEP's Share of the State Budget is Shrinking


Mississippi has seen healthy increases in state revenue each year since the last election, but our children and their schools aren't seeing much of it.

Since the current batch of legislators took office in 2012, the share of the state budget going to fund our children's education has shrunk. That's bad news for Mississippi families.

In the 2014 Legislative Session, the Legislature had $380-million more available to appropriate than it had in the previous year (2013), according to the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. Of that $380-million, only $72-million went to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), $64.6-million for the teacher pay raise and a $7.4-million increase in funding for the MAEP to fund base teacher salaries, classroom materials, and the other day-to-day costs of educating our children.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the Legislature appropriated $257-million less for our children's schools than is required by state law. That means that our public schools are operating on budgets that are $257-million short of what is required to run a "C" level school. Considering that our children have been short-changed by more than $250-million in each legislative session under the current administration, a $7.4-million move to close the gap is not a serious effort. It doesn't even begin to cover the cost of the new mandates this legislature has passed (see unfunded mandates below).

For the coming year, state funding for the MAEP (without the pay raise) increased by less than one-half of one percent (0.36%), while the state budget as a whole grew by 4.24%. Even with the pay raise, since the last election, MAEP funding has increased by only 6% while the state budget as a whole increased by 10% and state revenue is projected to increase by 12% (twice the rate of the MAEP).

During that same time frame, standards for schools have increased significantly, and the Legislature has passed numerous laws requiring districts to offer more services and perform additional administrative tasks without providing them the resources needed to comply with the new laws. Click here to see some of the unfunded mandates handed down to districts in recent years.

High standards and strong accountability are essential to good schools, and The Parents' Campaign strongly supports both.  But standards and accountability are fair and reasonable only to the degree that schools are provided the resources required to meet them. Starving schools of funding while ratcheting up requirements is not only unfair, it is counterproductive - and it hurts kids. Parents are fed up. We expect legislators to make good on their campaign promises to do all in their power to give our kids the resources they need to have a decent shot at success when they graduate and compete for jobs with their peers in states that do invest seriously in their public schools.